By Amara Thornton, Leonora Saunders, Felicity Cobbing and Becky Wragg Sykes
Last month the four women behind Trowelblazers, a digital platform for crowd-sourced biographies of pioneering women in archaeology, geology and palaeonology, in collaboration with photographer Leonora Saunders launched a new project, Raising Horizons. Supported by Prospect, Raising Horizons will feature a photographic exhibition, oral histories and associated events celebrating the long history of women working in these subjects.
Fourteen women actively working in archaeology, geology and paleontology today have been paired with a historical counterpart. Leonora and Trowelblazers have been working together to resurrect these historical women, creating new portraits as their modern ‘pairs’ represent them in costume. Their goal is to highlight the diversity of the fields today, and provide role models for younger generations while referencing and paying homage to the women who came before them.
One of the historic figures included is Kathleen Kenyon who as Director of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem led excavations at Jericho in the 1950s and Jerusalem in the 1960s. Kenyon is being portrayed by the archaeologist Shahina Farid, who as Field Director conducted excavations at the site of Çatalhöyük, Turkey between the 1990s and 2012. Both have been instrumental in training the next generation of archaeologists.
For the Farid/Kenyon portrait, the PEF loaned its Sands Hunter & Co camera with Zeiss lens which once belonged to the archaeologist John Garstang. Garstang used it on site at Jericho in the 1930s, so the camera has historic significance for the portrait. His wife Marie Louise Bergès Garstang, who excavated alongside him after their marriage in 1907, is also represented in the archive. Their daughter Meroe Garstang – named after one of the most important sites her parents excavated – also joined them on site at Jericho.
Another fantastic photograph in the Liverpool University Garstang Museum shows Marie Garstang excavating with her husband at Meroe in Sudan where they worked in the years immediately before the First World War. His and hers pith helmets, placed side by side at the edge of the trench, echo their working relationship captured in the image.
A number of institutions are supporting the Raising Horizons project, but Trowelblazers is actively crowdfunding to enable the project to go on tour and support associated events in these locations. A full list of institutional supporters can be found on Trowelblazers website – but you can help support the project at their Indiegogo page. A range of bespoke rewards have been sourced to accompany donations.
Rebecca Wragg Sykes, Brenna Hassett, Suzanne Pilaar Birch and Tori Herridge founded Trowelblazers in 2013. Find out more about them at Trowelblazers.com. Read more about Raising Horizons in the Guardian.
Watch the Raising Horizons Fundraiser video.
Learn more about Leonora’s work at her website: http://www.leonorasaunders.co.uk/